Identity Theft and Children: Unique Threats

Social Media and Identity Theft: What Parents Should Worry About

Social networking sites can present risks to children, but parents can help them make the right choices and protect their identity by following these five tips:

1. Keep the computer in plain sight. Make sure the family computer is placed in a public area, like the kitchen or family room, so children can’t hide what they’re doing. Parents should make it known to their children that they can check a child’s screen anytime, for any reason.
2. Children’s accounts should be an open book. Parents should make it known that a child needs parental permission to join social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. They should then make it clear that as a requirement their children must hand over their login information and passwords. If parents think their children have set up “parent-friendly” accounts and are secretly using secondary accounts, parents can check a computer’s browser history to pinpoint what pages and profiles are getting the most use.
3. Instill the use of proper online etiquette. Parents should make it clear to their children that what a child posts online is visible to many people—including parents, relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, strangers, and people who have bad intentions. So children should be counseled not to post anything that’s inappropriate or damaging to their (or the family’s) reputation.
4. Enable social networking privacy settings. Privacy settings don’t guarantee that a child won’t post inappropriate things or that he or she is entirely protected, but they can limit the damage if an unfortunate comment or photo is posted.
5. Children should never post their locations or anything that can give away the family address. Parents should always make sure to disable geolocation settings on their children’s phones, as many phones and apps are factory-set to enable others to view locations. Parents also need to make sure their children know to never offer personal information to anyone online.

“Familiar Fraud”: An Identity Threat Unique to College Students (continued)

Here are five safety tips parents can share with their college-age children:

  1. Challenge Authority. Parents should encourage children to say “no” to requests for personal information, except when absolutely necessary.
  2. Monitor Your Credit Like Your Grades. As soon as students establish credit by getting student loans or credit cards, for example, they should start monitoring their credit. Students can go to annually for a free report.
  3. Avoid Sharing Technology. Students should be encouraged to update their computer security software and use strong alphanumeric passwords with combinations of special characters and capitalization for all of their online accounts and devices. If they really want to let someone else use their computer, have them set up a “guest” account.
  4. Use a Crosscut Shredder. Students should use it for all those preapproved credit offers. Dumpster-diving is epidemic on campus because thieves know most kids just throw them away unopened.
  5. Invest In a Document Safe. Students should lock up important papers such as student loan and enrollment documents, so they won’t be left lying around where anyone could nose through them.

If you have any questions or would like to be sure you have the proper coverage for Identity Theft, please contact ACBI at 203-259-7580. 


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